Conjugated Linoleic Acid is almost as popular as protein powder nowadays! It seems to be on everyone’s radar, as most people are either taking it, or know someone who’s taking it. Back in the mid-to-late 90’s, researchers were JUST starting to figure out that it MIGHT have health benefits and cancer-fighting properties. But just like the Game Boy, shoulder pads, and permed hair, just because it was cool in the 90’s doesn’t mean it’s still cool in 2018.
Research is still being done on CLA, but now, it’s mostly for its potential fat-loss benefits, and potential benefit to our cardiovascular system.
OK, But What is CLA?
The body can’t make CLA on its own, but it can be absorbed and used through food. With that said, similar to eating enough red meat to get a ‘clinically effective’ dose of creatine, you would have to eat a boatload of beef, lamb, chicken, pork, and dairy products to see the ergogenic effects of CLA.
And if you did eat enough of those foods to get an ergogenically effective, performance-enhancing amount of CLA, you’d end up eating an excess amount of fat and calories. So you definitely wouldn’t see the fat loss effects anyway. Which brings us to our next point …
How Does CLA Help Fat Loss?
You’ll notice that the word ‘potential’ was put in Italics in the intro paragraph, because the research in inconclusive. That is to say, it seems like every other paper is proving that CLA aids in fat loss(1), or it has no effect what-so-ever(2). Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) attacks fat in a few different ways. According to Dr. Don Gauvreau, “CLA helps with fat loss by preventing fat accumulation in fat cells. Normally, fat enters fat cells through a “door” that is controlled by enzymes (“keys”). CLA inhibits the activity of the enzyme lipoprotein lipase, which is the enzyme responsible for transferring fats from the bloodstream to fat cells. When this enzyme is inhibited, the transport of fat into fat cells is halted in its tracks!” A lot of studies done on CLA have shown their effects when used chronically (over long periods of time), which also proves that it’s safe to long for long periods of time. One study proved another mechanism of action: That CLA can stimulate fat breakdown by activating norepinephrine, the same, super potent fat-burning hormone that green tea also activates(3). In another study, scientists noticed that after one year on the supplement, participants were eating 237 less calories than they were at the beginning of the study; which indicated that CLA might have an appetite-suppressing effect.(4)
Also according to Dr. Gauvreau, “CLA supplementation has been shown to decrease the enzyme necessary for fat cells to take up fat and triglycerides from the blood. Chronic intake of CLA increases basal metabolic rate. It’s a mild effect in humans, but over time, it significantly inhibits fat gain. There’s also a study, which shows that CLA can prevent fat from coming back once people who were on a diet resumed eating normally again.(1)
What kind of CLA to Take
Research studies show that of all the different forms of CLA, the ones most effective for fat loss are isomers cis-9, trans-11, and trans-10, cis- 12.2,3 What this means to you is that when you’re shopping for a CLA supplement, take a look at the ingredients panel, and make sure you see those specific forms, in relatively high doses.
How and When to Take CLA
Take at least 1 gram of CLA 3 times daily. Minimum daily dosage: 3 grams (divided into 3 doses/day) Maximum daily dosage: 6–9 grams (divided into 3 doses/day) ** CLA can (and should) be used chronically for best effect.